Lord & Taylor Turns the Lights Off for the Final Time

By Kurt Stolz on 1 March 2021
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Shoppers admiring Lord & Taylor’s iconic holiday windows at the Fifth Avenue store

Lord & Taylor on Saturday closed the doors and turned off the lights at its remaining stores, ending its run as the oldest department store in the United States after 195 years.

Founded in 1826 as a dry goods store, Lord & Taylor currently had 19 remaining stores across the country.  In 2018, it shuttered its flagship Fifth Avenue store after more than a century at that location.

The Starrett & van Vleck-designed Fifth Avenue store opened its doors on February 24, 1914, and had been an attraction for locals and tourists alike, especially during the holiday season when Lord & Taylor would unveil its whimsical holiday window displays.

The stores were known in the second half of the twentieth century for “updated fashions with good taste” and for employing sales personnel with “good manners.”

Saturday also marked the final day at the 80-year old Lord & Taylor store in Manhasset, New York, which was the nation’s first.

Samuel Lord founded the company in 1826.  In 1934, Lord’s store was renamed Lord & Taylor after his wife’s cousin, George Washington Taylor, joined the operation. The store moved uptown several times over the decades, settling into the iconic Fifth Avenue store in 1914.

The Lord & Taylor store in Manhasset, designed by Raymond Loewy Associates, was the country’s first suburban branch of a department store when it opened in 1941.

The company was a founding unit of Associated Dry Goods, which itself was founded in 1916, along with Stewart & Co. and Hahne & Co.  Associated Dry Goods was acquired by the May Company in 1966. Under May, the majority of Hahne & Co., Wanamaker’s, and Woodward & Lothrop stores were converted into Lord & Taylor stores.

In an $11 billion deal, May was acquired by Federated Department Stores in 2005, and NRDC Equity Partners acquired Lord & Taylor one year later for $1.2 billion. NRDC purchased the 338-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company in 2008, placing Lord & Taylor under that umbrella.

While HBC initially invested $250 million to upgrading Lord & Taylor stores starting in 2010, it began to close some stores in 2018 and announced plans to close the iconic Fifth Avenue store shortly thereafter, a clear sign to many that the company’s days were numbered.

HBC sold Lord & Taylor to the clothing rental chain Le Tote in 2019, just months before all of its stores were shuttered amidst the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Le Tote, unable to right the ship, filed for bankruptcy court protection along with Lord & Taylor in August 2020.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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